For months I’ve been passing this roadside shanty with a potentially very over-promising name: Noodle King.
Despite the ramshackle presentation (or maybe because of it), I suspected Noodle King might have more hidden beneath the surface than the rest of DC’s crack-den pizza-and-sub “Chinese American food” establishments. And for my last lunch date with my husband of the summer, I was DTE [The “E” stands for “eat.”]
I didn’t grab a photo of the interior because I didn’t want to look like a terrorist or a burglar casing the joint, but it’s a sure step up from the exterior. It’s well-decorated with a fair number of real wooden tables and two large tanks full of live lobsters. If I were a burglar, I would surely make note of the lobsters because this many of them would be worth a fortune on the seafood black market. Plus, unlike the aforementioned Chinese take-out places in DC, it lacked the seemingly omnipresent plexiglass anti-burglary dividers and people were actually eating there.
I waited until I arrived at my husband’s work to unwrap the goods:
During my scoping out of the menu, I was intrigued by their casserole section and eventually ordered the above Eight Treasure Casserole. What is Hong Kong-style Casserole, you ask? If you were expecting the Chinese equivalent of Minnesota hotdish, you would be extremely wrong. Perhaps due to the logistical constraints of take-out, this casserole was missing a piece of critical hardware, but this seemed to me to be just a large jumble of your typical Chinese proteins and veggies cooked together in your typical sweet, sticky Chinese sauce. Don’t get me wrong; the pork was flavorful, there was lots of that wrinkly fried tofu that somehow only restaurants can make, and the shrimp and scallops were surprisingly soft, not the least bit chewy. The majority is comprised of the tofu, so be forewarned if this is not your thing.
I also ordered the spicy, sweet, and sour cabbage along with the curry noodles. Both of these were earmarked on the menu with the ominous chili pepper symbol. As we’ve already established, I generally consider this symbol to be an invitation and/or challenge. With the cabbage, I expected kimchi but got a crisp, sour salad that was not even kind of spicy, unless you consider ginger to be a spice, which I guess it technically is. The curry noodles were definitely the pinnacle of the meal, which I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised about given that I was dining at the literal KING of noodles. Once again, “spicy” is a gross overstatement, but the texture of the noodles was firm and chewy with a yellow curry flavor that was missing the coconut milk of Thai food and tasted closer to Indian. The chicken with it was delicate and well-seasoned too.
This was a crazy amount of food but, for once this summer, I didn’t throw out the leftovers! These will bring me peace and happiness for, honestly, probably five more days.
Price: $15 per person.
Bottom line: Come for the noodles, stay for the noodles. Everything else here seems like fairly standard Chinese fare, but they don’t call it Noodle King for nothing.